Later this month, universities across Ohio will release the findings of surveys designed to get a handle for the first time on the prevalence of campus sexual assault.
Nearly all colleges and universities in the state are participating in the survey, which also will look at factors behind sexual assault and barriers to reporting incidents.
It’s being funded by the Ohio Department of Education’s new $2 million Changing Campus Culture initiative.
“Our campuses need to have the best gauge or the best measure of what’s really going on at our campuses,” said Kerry Soller, project manager. “If they’re doing a comprehensive survey, then they know what direction they need to go for education, for response.”
>> RELATED COVERAGE: 79 cases, 5 arrests, 0 rape convictions
She said the state also wants to encourage witnesses to act.
“Those two gentlemen who stopped that situation at Stanford, that’s who we want to empower our campuses to have in their communities,” she said.
Under a separate initiative, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office administers sexual assault training at universities and is passing along $3 million in federal grants to fund campus programs. This money largely helps fund support services for survivors.
The premise is to give survivors somewhere to go where they will be believed without all of the scrutiny of the justice system, to help cope with their trauma and prepare them to go to law enforcement, if they wish.
Katie Hanna, director of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, said educating residents from grade school through adulthood on consent and sexual assault prevention is also key.
“Ultimately we want to get to this place where this crime is not occurring at the rate that it is,” she said. “In order to end the sexual violence not only on college campuses, but it’s happening in our communities, let’s look at prevention … and then people will feel safe where they live.”
Editor’s note: This story is part of a special report by the I-Team on how campus police at Ohio’s universities handle reports of sexual assault. Parts of this series contains detailed descriptions of alleged sexual assaults. We believe these narratives — which this newspaper gathered over several months — are vital for understanding campus sexual assault, and the alleged crimes that led to no charges being filed.